Now, the veteran of gymnastics championships is looking to raise the bar even higher for UWWA’s mission to improve health, education and financial stability across West Alabama with a campaign goal of $3,825,000. Patterson revealed the goal at the annual UWWA Campaign Kickoff Luncheon, lending her formidable fundraising skills to the agency's annual campaign. Fundraising is yet another thing Patterson does successfully – she has raised almost $10 million for the DCH Foundation Breast Cancer Fund with The Power of Pink initiative.
“When I retired, I finally had the time to attend the United Way kickoff,” Patterson said. “I was so moved by the speakers and agencies that were represented that I immediately knew I wanted to be involved. I wanted to help.”
Patterson said working with collegiate athletes exposed her to how the UWWA’s services could have helped them, but she simply wasn’t aware of the services at the time. She said promoting the United Way’s 2-1-1 Helpline and Referral Program is just one of the steps she aims to take in raising awareness for UWWA.
United Way’s 2-1-1 line assists people who are looking for the resources to help them in the face of life’s many challenges, pairing them with call specialists who listen to their issue and work to connect them to a solution. Julie Mann, UWWA’s director of communications, said the line is a go-to resource for anyone who needs it.
“For anyone who has needed help, they know how hard it is to find that information. [The] 2-1-1 Information and Referral Line keeps a running list of services available in our nine-county regions,” Mann said. “So, a person who calls and has lost a job, fallen behind on bills, may need some gas money, etc., can call and get referrals on how to go about getting that help, armed with the knowledge of which places currently have funding, if there are certain days of the week applications are taken, etc. 2-1-1 helps people get the help they need.”
The 2-1-1 program also connects callers with quality child care, assistance with taxes, job training services and other kinds of community support. Patterson said the support from her community when her husband, gymnastics coach David Patterson, was diagnosed with cancer 21 years ago, was originally what inspired her to create what is now known as The Power of Pink.
“I remember everyone coming up to me and saying that we were in their thoughts and prayers and thinking ‘This is home,’” Patterson said. “I started to think of everyone and everything we’ve been given in our career and how important it is to give back.”
Patterson said her priority is raising awareness about United Way and all that its partner agencies have to offer the community as well. The UWWA currently has 26 partnerships, Mann said.
“With one donation to United Way, a person is contributing to 26 local partner agencies and initiatives. And when a community lives united, every donation, no matter how big or small, is combined together for a maximum impact on our community,” Mann said. “Whether it’s day-to-day needs, emergency and disaster response, illness-related support or so many other things people in our West Alabama have happen in the span of their lives, there is a nonprofit agency ready to help that your dollars help fund.”
For more information on the United Way of West Alabama’s partnerships and to donate to the campaign, visit uwwa.org.